Tonite I have the pleasure of meeting my friend Shiv Singh for a drink and dinner. He’s one of the wise men of marketing with a firm grasp of digital marketing. He has sat on every side of the table, from business owner to agency lead to his current role as the chief digital honcho at PepsiCo Beverages North America.
We don’t spend much time together these days because of our busy schedules. So it makes our irregular meetings even more important.
Shiv thinks clearly. He communicates clearly. His light british accent makes him sound like one of the smartest guys in the room. The depth of his thinking proves that he actually is.
Last month, Shiv tweeted out a link to a Harvard Business Review story by productivity expert Tony Schwartz titled “The Power of Deceptive Simplicity.” I encourage you all the read it.
He defines “deceptive simplicity” as “ideas that may seem obvious at first blush, but whose accessibility turns out to be the product of rigorous thinking, skillful synthesizing, and a commitment to clarity.”
Our devices keep us connected at all times to all our social graphs, from our most immediate (our nuclear family) to our friends, coworkers, partners and those we share similar interests (now called the “interest graph.”) They also keep us disconnected, spending more and more time sitting next to each other focused on our small screens.
So in order to succeed, however you choose to define that at home and at work and with yourself, you need to turn off to turn on.
“To manage the storm around us, we need to quiet the storm inside ourselves,” Schwartz writes. “By doing that effectively, we can devote more attention to whatever we decide matters most.”
For me, this includes being uber focused at work and focusing on only the items that will drive the most value to the company, even if that means saying no to meetings and opportunities that look amazing on paper. Most recently, this has included turning down an invite to the G8 Summit in Paris as well as the CEO summit of one of our investors.
I really can only get a handful of substantive things done each day at work. In order to do that, I’ve had to let email pile up on occasion (and by occasion, I mean every day). And it means building a team that can scale with our business in the future as each of our senior management team members can only do a few things themselves (other than Kass, who can do so much more than anyone I have ever met).
It also means to create business models and business systems that are, on balance, easy to implement. For Buddy Media, that means focusing on what we do – we build software, we sell software and we support software. That’s it. Everything I think about, and everything my team should think about, should come back to whether or not this project helps us build a better product, sell it to more companies or create happier customers.
To be sure, simplicity in venture-backed business isn’t an oxymoron. But it sure is damn close.
At home, “deceptive simplicity” for me means doing a better job of turning off when I’m with the kids. It means spending time with just the people who refill Kass and my cup and not continue to drain it. And committing to the tradeoff -- I won’t be the one who is in the most meetings or out most nights at the industry events. But I will be trying to work smarter, more focused and more strategically than others.